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Trump impeachment calls snowball, putting pressure on Pelosi

Democratic calls for impeaching President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal watchdog accuses VOA parent company of wrongdoing under Trump appointee Lawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list Ivanka Trump gives deposition in lawsuit alleging misuse of inauguration funds MORE snowballed on Tuesday, lending enormous new momentum to efforts to oust the president and posing the toughest test yet for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms | Pelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks | Poll: Most Americans support raising taxes on those making at least 0K Battle heats up for House Foreign Affairs gavel Nearly one-third of US adults expect to lose employment income: Census Bureau MORE (D-Calif.) and other party leaders grappling with the potential repercussions.

The list of new impeachment supporters spans the ideological spectrum, including liberal holdouts, vulnerable centrists, committee chairs and party icons like Rep. John LewisJohn LewisKwanza Hall wins race to briefly succeed John Lewis in Congress Congress must act to protect and expand Social Security benefits Ossoff features Obama in TV ad ahead of Georgia runoff MORE (D-Ga.), who endorsed the process Tuesday afternoon in a fiery speech on the House floor.

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"The future of our democracy is at stake," Lewis said. "There comes a time when you have to be moved by the spirit of history to take action to protect and preserve the integrity of our nation."

Pelosi and her leadership team have long rejected the idea of impeaching Trump, wary of the potential blowback against vulnerable centrists at the polls next year.

But recent allegations that Trump pressed a foreign leader to investigate a political rival have sparked an uproar within the Democratic Caucus, leading dozens of lawmakers to jump on the impeachment bandwagon in the last 24 hours alone.

Against that backdrop, Pelosi will huddle Tuesday afternoon with the six committee chairs investigating allegations of wrongdoing against Trump, while a separate meeting of the full Democratic Caucus — unusual ahead of the week's votes — is scheduled for 4 p.m.

“The Constitution gives Congress the responsibility to rein in a lawless President,” Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesHouse Democrats pick Aguilar as No. 6 leader in next Congress Nominated for another Speaker term, Pelosi says it's her last Katherine Clark secures No. 4 leadership spot for House Democrats MORE (N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus, tweeted Tuesday, announcing the 4 p.m. meeting. “We will do our job #ImpeachmentInvestigation.”

Many Democrats now want to go beyond the ongoing investigative strategy long favored by Pelosi and other top leaders.

New reports that Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenLawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list GOP lawmaker blasts incoming freshman over allegations of presidential voter fraud Haaland has competition to be first Native American to lead Interior  MORE and his son, Hunter Biden, have supercharged the impeachment push, with a number of moderate lawmakers suddenly changing their tune.

Some of those centrists, like Rep. Antonio DelgadoAntonio Ramon DelgadoMaloney vows to overhaul a House Democratic campaign machine 'stuck in the past' Rundown of the House seats Democrats, GOP flipped on Election Day Next Congress expected to have record diversity MORE (D-N.Y.), are now supporting votes on articles of impeachment. A larger group of moderates haven't gone so far, but they're threatening to endorse impeachment in some form if Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, refuses to release a whistleblower report related to Trump's conversation with Zelensky when Maguire appears before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

Seven Democratic freshmen with either military or national security backgrounds wrote a Washington Post op-ed on Monday warning that the Ukraine episode may be their breaking point on impeachment.

"If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense," the lawmakers wrote.

The group consisted of Reps. Gil CisnerosGilbert (Gil) Ray CisnerosMORE (Calif.), Jason CrowJason CrowGiffords launches national Gun Owners for Safety group to combat the NRA House approves .2T COVID-19 relief bill as White House talks stall Lawmakers grill Pentagon over Trump's Germany drawdown MORE (Colo.), Chrissy Houlahan (Pa.), Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaChamber-endorsed Dems struggle on election night Overnight Defense: How members of the Armed Services committees fared in Tuesday's elections | Military ballots among those uncounted in too-close-to-call presidential race | Ninth US service member killed by COVID-19 Luria holds onto Virginia House seat MORE (Va.), Mikie SherrillRebecca (Mikie) Michelle SherrillDemocratic Women's Caucus members split endorsements for House campaign chief Overnight Defense: Armed Services chairman unsold on slashing defense budget | Democratic Senate report details 'damage, chaos' of Trump foreign policy | Administration approves .8B Taiwan arms sales Democratic House chairman trusts Pentagon won't follow 'unlawful orders' on election involvement MORE (N.J.), Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinBickering Democrats return with divisions Questions swirl at Pentagon after wave of departures Overnight Defense: Another Defense official resigns | Pentagon chief says military 'remains strong' despite purge | Top contender for Biden DOD secretary would be historic pick MORE (Mich.) and Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerManchin: Ocasio-Cortez 'more active on Twitter than anything else' Divided citizenry and government — a call to action for common ground House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally MORE (Va.).

Several other freshmen also representing battleground districts adopted a similar position this week, including Reps. Dean PhillipsDean PhillipsChamber-endorsed Dems struggle on election night If we want change, young people have to do more than protest Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking MORE (D-Minn.), Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Colin Allred (D-Texas), Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas) and Haley StevensHaley Maria StevensDemocrat Haley Stevens hangs on to Michigan House seat Chamber-endorsed Dems struggle on election night US Chamber of Commerce set to endorse 23 House freshman Democrats MORE (D-Mich.).

There are other signs of impeachment momentum, too.

A number of Democrats who had previously supported an impeachment inquiry, for instance, are now calling for articles to be drafted — a stark escalation of the process intended to oust the president. That list includes Reps. Brad SchneiderBradley (Brad) Scott SchneiderElection scrambles prospects for next COVID-19 relief bill Democrats call for IRS to review tax-exempt status of NRA 189 House Democrats urge Israel to 'reconsider' annexation MORE (D-Ill.), Betty McCollumBetty Louise McCollumOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency | House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally | Trump administration pushes for rollback of Arctic offshore drilling regulations Disagreements are a part of our process OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump extends Florida offshore drilling pause, expands it to Georgia, South Carolina | Democrats probe Park Service involvement in GOP convention | Sanders attacks 'corporate welfare' to coal industry included in relief package MORE (D-Minn.), Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarGallego tapped to run Hispanic Caucus's campaign arm Maloney vows to overhaul a House Democratic campaign machine 'stuck in the past' Hispanic Caucus endorses Cárdenas to lead DCCC MORE (D-Texas) and David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineHillicon Valley: GOP chairman says defense bill leaves out Section 230 repeal | Senate panel advances FCC nominee | Krebs says threats to election officials 'undermining democracy' Schakowsky to introduce bill to limit reach of tech liability shield States plot next moves on redistricting MORE (R.I.), who heads the Democrats’ messaging arm.

“President Trump’s actions to pressure a foreign government into investigating a political rival are an absolute abuse of the powers of the presidency, and this flagrant corruption demands an urgent response from Congress,” Schneider said Tuesday in a statement.

The growing support for impeachment poses a test for Pelosi, the political pragmatist who views the 2020 elections as the Democrats’ best chance at removing Trump and doesn't want to risk a political backlash that could benefit Republicans at the polls. With that in mind, Pelosi has long rejected impeaching Trump, pointing to the lack of support from both voters and congressional Republicans, who control the Senate.

On Sunday, Pelosi sent a warning shot to the White House ahead of Thursday's Intelligence hearing.

“If the Administration persists in blocking this whistleblower from disclosing to Congress a serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the President, they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation,” she wrote in a letter to House Democrats.

But Pelosi avoided any mention of the “I-word.” And some party operatives are predicting she won't endorse the shift to impeachment without a stark shift in public support.

Trump, meanwhile, has forcefully denied reports that he leveraged U.S. military aid to compel Zelensky to investigate Biden, while also suggesting it would have been well within his powers to have done so.

“I put no pressure on them whatsoever. I could have. I think it would probably, possibly have been OK if I did. But I didn't. I didn't put any pressure on them whatsoever,” Trump said Monday.

He doubled down Tuesday morning, saying the Democrats' push for impeachment is politically motivated “nonsense.”

“I think it’s ridiculous. It’s a witch hunt. I’m leading in the polls,” Trump said as he arrived at the United Nations annual summit in New York. “They have no idea how they stop me, the only way they can try is through impeachment.”

Some Democrats have floated a proposal to create a special committee to investigate Trump's dealings with Ukraine. The idea was quickly panned by liberal impeachment supporters, however, who warned that it would only delay a process served best by the Judiciary Committee.

“This is an emergency. We don’t have the luxury of time w/ another committee,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHarry Styles hits back at criticism over wearing dress on Vogue cover 'It's not a slogan': Progressives push back on Obama's comments on 'defund the police' movement Obama says Democrats should make sure Ocasio-Cortez has a platform MORE (D-N.Y.) tweeted Tuesday.

“Judiciary has been investigating& putting the pieces together for months,” she added. “Impeachment belongs there."